Addiction is not a disease, and it's definitely not a "family disease". Treating it like one has led us to the crisis we're seeing today.
Treatment plays both sides of the fence. It labels addiction a disease, but then advises families to implement “tough love” and cut the substance user off. Can you imagine screaming at your son suffering from cancer that you're done with him and will no longer support him due to his cancer? Can you imagine oncologists advocating that families cut off their loved one with cancer? No one would ever do that, yet it happens around the country every day regarding "addiction." It is time for a solution that lets go of the disease mythology while not demanding you abandon your loved one or coerce them into disease-based treatment. There is a better way…
Finally, we now know what addiction is and what it is not, we know why people struggle, and we know how best to help them and their families. There’s a viable solution that has helped thousands of people to put addiction and substance use problems behind them for good. Based on three decades of research and experience helping substance users and their families, The Freedom Model for Addictions and The Freedom Model for the Family is nothing short of revolutionary.
About the author
Michelle L. Dunbar is the Executive Director of Baldwin Research Institute and the Freedom Model Retreats, the first residential non-12 step model for addiction help. Michelle was first thrust into the addiction recovery world as a young child. At the time she learned from family members, who were immersed in the 12 step culture, about the alleged supernatural powers of alcohol and drugs. As a result of these beliefs, she struggled with alcohol and drugs succumbing to the disease rhetoric in her teens. Thankfully, Michelle was blessed with an inquisitive mind and a skeptic's heart. By 1990, then in her early twenties, these personal attributes proved to be a compass that guided her out of heavy substance use completely. She learned never to take anything at face value and was heard frequently saying, "Let's look at the data." This attitude and hunger for the truth pushed her past the addict/alcoholic self image, and provided a firm platform for her to research and find how best to help those struggling. Her primary goal is to spread the truth that addiction is not a disease and that people can and do move past their addictions completely.
Michelle has worked helping substance users and their families for nearly 30 years. In her free time she enjoys reading, walking, and watching her beloved NY Yankees. Michelle lives with her best friend and husband of 25 years, Bob. Together they raised three boys and are now just beginning to experience the joys of having an empty nest.
Steven Slate is a Research Fellow of Baldwin Research Institute, whose mission is to research cutting edge drug and alcohol issues, educational methodology, and best practices for drug and alcohol problems and related issues, to guide the drug and alcohol treatment industry and recovery society as a force for change, and to honestly and objectively educate the public as to the effectiveness of treatment and prevention programs with respect to drug and alcohol use. He co-authored The Freedom Model for Addictions, which is the culmination of BRI's decades of research and experience helping people with substance use problems.
Steven came into the field after 5 years of addiction treatment had failed to help him solve his own heroin use problem, and he rejected the teachings of treatment to finally solve his problem. By shedding the "addict" self-image, embracing the fact that he was in control of himself, and recognizing that he could choose to change his substance use habits without a lifetime of meetings, treatments, and relapses, he finally ended his destructive heroin use habit. He's gone on to study addiction, and found that the majority of people said to be addicted get over their problems without any treatment or meetings whatsoever, and that a wide body of research spanning several decades easily disproves the treatment industry's claims of involuntary substance use and a "disease of addiction".
His critical refutation of the brain disease model of addiction has appeared in textbooks published by McGraw Hill and Greenhaven press, and has since been confirmed by several internationally recognized addictions researchers, academics, and neuroscientists. His TEDx Talk "Our Relationship With Addiction" can be found online, and he appeared in the 12 Step exposé documentary "The 13th Step." His website is a popular source of alternative theories of addiction and research demonstrating that all substance use is fully voluntary behavior, that addiction treatment can be harmful, and that so-called addicts and alcoholics are more likely to resolve their problems without addiction treatment. His work is committed first to respecting the autonomy and right to self-determination of all substance users, denouncing myths about substance use, denouncing attempts to coerce and scare substance users into quitting, and finally presenting the facts that empower substance users to make choices that decrease their difficulties with drugs and alcohol.
Mark W. Scheeren co-founded Baldwin Research Institute, Inc. (BRI) and the Freedom Model Retreats, the first non-12 step model for drug and alcohol problems in America. As a BRI Research Fellow, he is the co-author of the revolutionary book, The Freedom Model for Addictions. Mark is the only addictions researcher in the world to have studied individuals with substance use issues by living with the study subjects for a period of twelve years. "This was the only way to truly understand the issues concerning this population, and to build solutions that actually promoted success. This effort created the knowledge base for the foundation of The Freedom Model for Addictions, that being: free-will, autonomy and the Positive Drive Principle." As a noted 12 step historian, Mr. Scheeren is an expert on the falsity of the disease concept and the failings of the 12 step paradigm as a whole. Mark is well known in alcohol and drug research circles for his courageous and outspoken public service campaigns: "Treatment Doesn't Work!" and "Addiction Treatment Doesn't Help Addicts, It Creates Them!" Mark is also known for his fearlessness in saying provocative and controversial things as a means to create debate in the addiction field:
"The disease concept of addiction is the greatest lie ever told to the American Public in the last 100 years."
"When we posted, 'Treatment Doesn't Work!' on our website for the first time in the late nineties, two things happened: we received more hate mail than in all the years previously combined, and our non-12 step retreats filled up in less than 30 days. Both were fantastic indicators that we were saying the right thing!"
"There are three types of AA members: those who are the gurus and never leave; those who believe and follow the gurus, and are in and out; and those who leave for good. Only the last group is a success of AA."
Mark is also a naturalist and his other hobbies include reading, hiking, boxing, and big-game hunting. Mark lives with his beautiful wife of 17 years, Danielle, and has three wonderful children: Austin, Gabrielle, and Joey.